Aminosalicylates and colorectal cancer in IBD: a not-so bitter pill to swallow

Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Aug;98(8):1682-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2003.07599.x.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is associated with an increased risk of developing intestinal cancer at sites of chronic inflammation. Aminosalicylates, including both sulfasalazine and mesalamine, are the most commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory agents prescribed in IBD. On balance, the body of literature to date suggests that aminosalicylates confer some protection against the development of colonic neoplasia in patients with IBD and in a variety of models, including in the noninflamed gut. This latter observation implies that aminosalicylates may be of chemopreventive value in normal as well as IBD individuals. The current review examines and gives an overview of the evidence from a variety of sources, including epidemiological, in vivo and in vitro studies that have investigated the potential anticancer effects of aminosalicylates.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminosalicylic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Aminosalicylic Acids
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents